Temptation: How We Overcome

1 John 1:5 – 2:2 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Beautiful! Hope for forgiveness. Hope for sanctification. This passage is filled with so much promise. It’s a beautiful explanation of how God loves us as we are, but loves us too much to leave us that way.

We all deal with temptations to one degree or another, but when they begin to attack the solidity of our marriage covenant we need to step up our game. To be quite honest the temptations which attack our marriage are often issues which the church views as shameful and taboo. See this email we received from one woman:

I am a Christain woman and I love my husband very much and I have always had relationships with men.  However, I went through a divorce a while back and I “experimented” with women.  Mostly just out of wanting to feel loved somehow.  I have always been attracted to men but I sometimes feel sexual attraction for women too.  I have no plans of cheating on my husband period.  Whether it be with a woman or man and I am content in my marriage.  But why as a christian woman would I even feel this attraction towards a woman?  It always seems to come up and I squash it back down.  Is something wrong with me?

What a wonderfully honest email! I can not find any more fault with this woman as I would with someone who was dealing with any other temptation. And let us be clear that to be tempted is not sin. Temptation is a presentation for an opportunity to sin. What you do with the opportunity determines if it is sin or not.

For the purpose of this article we do not need to specifically address same sex attraction, but we do want to be aware of strategies to overcome temptation when our sexual focus on our husbands is threatened like this. Sexual temptation is common and whether it’s a temptation to get the attention of other men, to view pornography, to look outside of your marriage for sexual fulfillment or any other sin, we need to commit ourselves to be honest and deal with our temptations head on. I’ve had my share of opportunities to sin and God has turned what the enemy intended for harm on it’s head to teach me how to overcome. I hope what I have learned will be helpful and please feel free to share the strategies you have learned as well.

Strategy 1 ~ Supportive Relationships: These girls I co-write with on the Christian Nympho blog are among the women I have in my life who I can go to if I am tempted. They pray for me. They remind me of the truth. They neither judge me nor give me a green light to sin. So if you can bring along side of you women who you trust, it can be very helpful to have someone there who you can go to and ask for prayer. They don’t need to know every detail.

Strategy 2 ~ Prayer and Worship: This is a huge aspect of overcoming temptation. God always provides a way out and drawing close to Him in worship and prayer will help us see that way out. If we become filled with shame we, just like Adam and Even in the garden, draw away from Him and that is the last thing we want to do if we hope to overcome.

Strategy 3 ~ Declaring Truth: It’s so helpful to speak out what is true when you are being tempted. There is an aspect of deception in all sin so if you declare what is true it helps to affirm in your spirit your desire to pursue righteousness. It’s helpful to say it out loud, but even focusing your thoughts on truth is beneficial. Direct your attention on what is true and you will find more strength to chose what is right.

I loved the honest questions at the end of the email I quoted. Why as a christian woman would I even feel this attraction towards a woman?  It always seems to come up and I squash it back down.  Is something wrong with me? Well, yes, there is something wrong with this woman, but not any more than any of the rest of us. We were all born with a sin nature and it does influence us, but the good news is that the cross of Christ and His resurrection have set us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-3). The process of sanctification will cause the influence of that nature to diminish. We really don’t need to white-knuckle our way through temptation. As we live in increasing measure in accordance with the Spirit (Romans 8:1-16) we find that more and more we are able to draw on that power of God that is in us to overcome every temptation we face.

I really want to see us all living in what God has for us so my prayer is that God will help you to establish strategies for learning how to overcome temptation. Don’t let temptation fill you with shame, but rather hold onto the truth of who you are as God’s daughter.

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